The New York Times29 April 1915


Troops Allowed Kurds to Kill Hundreds, American Missionary Reports.


Occupation of Persia Alone Can Save Situation, a Missionary Writes.

More than 800 native Christians have been massacred by Kurds, and not less than 2,000 have died of disease at Urumiah, Persia, according to information received by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions yesterday. The Turkish soldiers are accused of aiding or permitting the massacres. Two letters were received from Dr. W. S. Vanneman, head of' the Presbyterian Mission Hospital at Tabriz, who is the Chairman of the relief committee appointed by the American Consul. Because of the strict censorship Dr. Vanneman wrote to his wife, who is in Salem, N. J., rather than to the board itself. His letters were sent to the board by Mrs. Vanneman. In a letter of March 14 Dr. Vanneman wrote:

"About ten days ago the Kurds in Salmas, with the permission of the Turkish troops, gathered all the Nestorian and Armenian men remaining there, it is reported about 800. Four hundred were sent to Khosrova and 400 to Haft Dewan under the pretense of giving them bread. They were held a few days and then all of them tortured and massacred. Many of the women and children were taken away and maltreated. This happened a day or two before the advancing Russian Army took Salmas.

"We are very anxious about Urumiah. A letter dated March 1, from Dr. Shedd (the Rev. Dr. W. A. Shedd of Marietta, Ohio) came through by messenger two days ago. He said things were getting worse. Gulpashan, which hitherto had not been disturbed by the Kurds as it had not fought against them, had been plundered and ruined. I think this was the only village which remained. Fifty-one of the most prominent men of this village were taken out at night to the cemetery and shot. The women and girls who could not escape were violated. This was done by the Turkish soldiers.

"Forty men had been taken from the Roman Catholic Mission, in Urumiah City, kept prisoners a few days, then were taken at night two miles from the city and shot.

"Dr. Shedd asked the American Consul at Tabriz to come to Urumiah, but after consulting, with three other Consuls here it was decided it would be impossible to get through. Mr. Paddock has telegraphed every possible place for assistance. We can do nothing more.

"We hear, but do not know if it is true that the mission in Urumiah has been forced to pay $40,000 as a ransom for the refugees, and we fear it is true. Dr. Shedd writes that not less than 800 had been murdered in Urumiah and not less than 2,000 had died of disease. This applies to Christians only. This is a very large per cent., as more than half of the Christians fled to Russia."

Under date of March 21 Dr. Vanneman wrote:

"We are more anxious than ever about Urumiah. On the 17th Turkish troops attacked our mission and the Roman Catholic Mission and took five native Russian priests from our compound and treated them badly. We do not know yet if they were killed. Mr. Allen was also treated badly because he had sent out three messengers. The gates of the Catholic Mission were burned and they were all in great danger. We received word from Ambassador Morgenthau that orders had been sent to Urumiah to protect Christians, but the order was just too late. We are working to get all the remaining Christians away from Urumiah.

"Some of the native Christian preachers have been crucified and some burned, but these were of other denominations.

"If the Russian troops should be withdrawn again, every Christian would have to leave Tabriz. We have received $6,000 for relief and have spent at least $15,000. If the people have to be moved from Urumiah and then fed, You can imagine what an expense it will be.

"I do not believe the real condition of affairs is comprehended in America. It is practically the extermination of the Syrians (Nestorians) and very bad for the Armenians also. The only hope is occupation by Russia."


Reports Great. Uneasiness Over Treatment of Armenians.

Special to. The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, April 28.- Ambassador Morgenthau at Constantinople today notified Secretary of State Bryan that he and other members of the diplomatic corp in the Turkish capital had taken up with the Ottoman Government the complaints of the Katolikos, head of the Armenian Greek church at Etchmiadzin, on behalf of Armenian Christians who have been massacred by Turks and Kurds in the Transcaucasian region. George Bakhmeteff, Russian Ambassador to the United States, called on Secretary Bryan yesterday and delivered a message which the Katolikos had sent to Russia and which the Russian Government asked the United States Government to present to the Turkish Government.

Secretary Bryan said today that it appeared that the message which he had yesterday sent to Ambassador Morgenthau, crossed the message which Ambassador Morgenthau had sent, showing he had already taken up this matter with the proper authorities. Ambassador Morgenthau's cablegram reported that there was great uneasiness in the Near East over the treatment of the Armenians. The message did not speak definitely of the reported massacres or give details, but assured Secretary Bryan that the matter was being taken up vigorously with the Ottoman authorities.

The New York Times